Head On By John Scalzi

Book Review

 


Head On (Lock In, #2)Book Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery

Book Series: Lock in #2

Released: 4/17/18 by Tor Books

Pages: 336  Price: $25.99 Hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

John Scalzi returns with Head On, the standalone follow-up to the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed Lock In. Chilling near-future SF with the thrills of a gritty cop procedural, Head On brings Scalzi’s trademark snappy dialogue and technological speculation to the future world of sports.

Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it.

Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field.

Is it an accident or murder? FBI Agents and Haden-related crime investigators, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, are called in to uncover the truth―and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost, and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.

My Review:

Took me a bit longer to get into this one than the first book in this series.  The part focusing on the game Hilketa just bogged me down and made me struggle to focus on the book.  I’m not a sports fan, any sports apparently, as this is a made-up game in a made-up universe.   The parts focusing on the politics and business, or rather the corruption, of the sport, were a bit more interesting for me.

My favorite parts, however, were the scenes with Shane and Vann as the banter between these two is pure gold.  I also enjoyed Shane’s time with his flatmates and the parts about the cat never failed to crack me up.  It has been a while since I read the first but it felt like we spent more time with Shane’s parents and it was nice to explore the dynamics of their family.

Another part I found fascinating was the exploration of the virtual world, I forget its name, that the hadens create for themselves and use to interact with each other.  Parts of that reminded me of Ready Player One.

Like I said I struggled a bit more with this book but after reading the acknowledgments it appears like Scalzi did too.  I’ve long believed that often comes out in the writing.  The last third of the book worked the best for me and I often found myself laughing out loud as I read well past my bedtime to finish the book.  I so hope that Scalzi writes another book in the series as it is such an interesting world to explore.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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Top Ten Tuesday: Good Omens

Top Ten Tuesday

Welcome to another contribution to the wildly popular Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week she asks us to share lists on the following:

April 17: Freebie (create your own topic): Signs I’m into a book/series/author.

The idea for this list struck me a couple of months back and I almost wrote it up for a bookish thoughts post.  When I checked out the upcoming TTT list topics I noticed the upcoming freebie list and decided to use it for this instead.

Note:  My scheduling of this post was off,  damn you failing eyesight that makes a tiny 1 look like a 7….  I tried to redact this and save it for today but some of you might have had a sneak peek of today’s list.  Sorry for any confusion.

Ten signs that I’m really into a book or series.

  1. Dreaming: When I’m reading or rereading a particularly long series I’m enjoying the plot and characters will eventually work their way into my dreams.
  2. Autobuy:  There are fewer names on the list but I still have a few that I will buy automatically on release day.
  3. Imaginary Conversations:  Okay, I admit it… When I’m doing some menial task like mowing the lawn or cleaning out the chicken coop I will sometimes have conversations with characters in my favorite books.  Seems weird to me but it sure does make the chore pass faster.
  4. Reading Excerpts:  If I LOVE my current read and find it particularly funny I will sometimes follow my husband around the house reading him excerpts.  Got him to read The Martian that way!
  5. Library Suggestion:  When I truly enjoy a book I will often times put it on the buy list at work.
  6. Pimp that Book: Number five leads to me recommending it to any and all patrons that I think it might be a good fit for.
  7. Stalking the Author: Not for real, but I usually follow the authors I enjoy on social media.
  8. Reread: Wanting to read a book more than once is always a good sign that I loved it.
  9. Home Library: Since working in a library I have become less sentimental about a book and only those titles I truly love earn a permanent spot on my stacks.
  10. Investigate: I will quickly begin hunting down other titles by that author to enjoy.

What signs do you have that you are enjoying a particular book, series or author?  Share in the comments!

Monday Morning Check In: Instagram

Good Monday morning everyone.  It was another chilly weekend here in Eastern Iowa.  Fortunately, we did not get the snow that other parts of Iowa or Minnesota received.  Still, there is a fresh layer of the white crap out there and the temps are once again in the 20’s to start off the day…  I hate winter. I just want to turn off my furnace!

Anyway, over the weekend I purged a ton of clothing and reorganized the room we use as a closet as I’ve decided not to wait for spring to start spring cleaning.  I also set up a second Instagram account for the blog where I hope to start posting just bookish related pictures.  Like my book hauls and current reads without the cats, gardening, trek, or knitting shots which will remain on my main account, amyjoiowa.  Now I’ve not posted any pictures yet but if you want to follow the blog on Instagram you can at read_what_i_like.  Will try to take some more aesthetically pleasing shots but I’m not promising anything.

Have a great week everyone!  Happy reading.

The Taster by V.S. Alexander

Book Review

 


The TasterBook Genre: Historical Fiction, War

Book Series: N/A

Released: 1/30/18 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

Pages: 323  Price: $15.99 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this book from my library

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Amid the turbulence of World War II, a young German woman finds a precarious haven closer to the source of danger than she ever imagined–one that will propel her through the extremes of privilege and terror under Hitler’s dictatorship . . . 

In early 1943, Magda Ritter’s parents send her to relatives in Bavaria, hoping to keep her safe from the Allied bombs strafing Berlin. Young German women are expected to do their duty–working for the Reich or marrying to produce strong, healthy children. After an interview with the civil service, Magda is assigned to the Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat. Only after weeks of training does she learn her assignment: she will be one of several young women tasting the Fuhrer’s food, offering herself in sacrifice to keep him from being poisoned.

Perched high in the Bavarian Alps, the Berghof seems worlds away from the realities of battle. Though terrified at first, Magda gradually becomes used to her dangerous occupation–though she knows better than to voice her misgivings about the war. But her love for a conspirator within the SS, and her growing awareness of the Reich’s atrocities, draw Magda into a plot that will test her wits and loyalty in a quest for safety, freedom, and ultimately, vengeance.

Vividly written and ambitious in scope, The Taster examines the harrowing moral dilemmas of war in an emotional story filled with acts of extraordinary courage.

My Review:

If you follow my blog you might be wondering why I read this book being it is so vastly different from the typical genre of books I read. The short answer is a book talk at work.  I did dread starting this one so much that I put it off until four days before the actual talk was scheduled.  I managed to finish over two days so that should give you a clue to what I thought of it in the end.

Normally I hate historical fiction, and books about WWII even more despite the fact that I agree with the author that we should never forget what happened and believe everyone should be exposed to the atrocities that took place because of the ego of a madman.  I don’t like reading them because they make me mad.  They also make me ashamed of my German heritage despite the fact that all of my ancestors left Germany before 1870 before Germany was even a county. Anyway, those are my personal hangups and have little to do with this book.

I did struggle with the first few chapters of the book as I tried to decide if I liked Magda or not.  Her ambivalence to the war and Nazi’s bothered me in the beginning.  Granted that changed but it wasn’t until that change took place that I warmed up to the character.  This book is quite a different type of story about WWII than most would encounter.  An interesting idea of chronicling what it might be like to live and work inside Hitler’s circle.  To be so sheltered while so much horror is taking place in the country surrounding you.  It was quite a fascinating read that did pull me in.

I did appreciate how the author did expose the main character to the grim reality of what was taking place around her.  She didn’t stay sheltered for long, through her trials and tribulations she grew and strengthened with each new exposure.  All the while remaining frustrated with how little power she actually had to change anything.

The ending was a bit of a surprise and I was delighted with how things worked out for Magda.  She went through a lot and most of her life’s choices were not hers to make if she wanted to survive.

I’m glad I read the book but don’t believe I will be seeking out more WWII historical fiction titles to add to my reading list.  They still leave me wiped a bit emotionally and a tad depressed even though I know how things worked out in the end.  I still feel bad for what happened.  Quickly followed by fear for our future as I think of the madman we have in office currently.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday:Passing Fancy

Top Ten Tuesday

Welcome to another contribution to the wildly popular Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week she asks us to share lists on the following:

 April 10: Books I Loved but Will Never Re-Read

There are several series that I am working on rereading and a few more that I plan to re-read in the future.  Then there are some series that I truly enjoyed but don’t need to revisit.

Ten series I enjoyed but don’t want to re-read

  1. Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side (Jessica, #1) This was a fun YA paranormal series that never really took off.  It ended after two and a half books.  Thought it was not as well-known I enjoyed it but not enough to ever re-read.
  2. Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1) I loved this series when it first came out and desperately wished that I had stopped reading around book nine or ten.  If I had I probably would have wanted to reread this series but with the way it ended, I simply can’t revisit this world or ever read one of Ms. Harris’s books ever again.
  3. Happy Hour at Casa Dracula (Casa Dracula, #1) This was a lesser known quartet of books that took me forever to start but once I did I was super impressed by how good it was.  Not enough to reread though.
  4. Fated (Dark Protectors, #1) This was a hot urban fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal series that I zipped through.  I’ve tried other series written by this author but never found one that I liked as well as this series.  completely recommend to others but won’t be re-reading.
  5. I'm the Vampire, That's Why (Broken Heart #1) This series kind of fizzled out for me and I never ended up finishing it.  The first few books were great though, but I don’t think I’ll be rereading them in an effort to finish the series.
  6. Jacob (Nightwalkers, #1) Another great urban fantasy/paranormal romance world that I loved.  Haven’t given her other series a try yet and I don’t think I ever will.  Nor will I be rereading this series.
  7. Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs (Jane Jameson, #1) This series is freaking hilarious.  I used to love her work and then I kept getting turned down for her ARCs and never seemed to make time to pick them up and read them after release.  Finally, I have just given up on keeping current with her series altogether.  Kinda sad.
  8. Bared to You (Crossfire, #1) The Crossfire series is kind of like a train wreck that you just can’t look away from.  I was glad I read it and enjoyed the ending but I don’t think I will be revisiting this world again.
  9. The Passage (The Passage, #1) I’m so glad I stuck with this trilogy to the end.  I’m also thrilled that I got a chance to meet Mr. Cronin at BEA a couple of years ago.  That being said I don’t think I’ll be rereading this series.
  10. Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1) I read this series last year, actually need to finish the last two books still…, I thought the first two books were great but I don’t think I’ll be re-reading it even though I plan on keeping my signed copy in my home library forever.

What books did you love but never plan on reading ever again?

Monday Morning Check-in: Missing Spring

Good Monday morning everyone.  Yet another week has passed without any signs of spring.  At this point I don’t care if we dive right into summer I just want to turn off my furnace.  It has been running for six months and I just want to open the windows.

I feel like I have been reading less lately.  Too much time on YouTube I think.  I hope to finish up my Scalzi ARC this week and then I have a book talk read for my library.  I have been approved for several more review books on Net Galley too that I need to read.  I find myself lacking in motivation recently and not just for reading.  The dishes, cleaning, and other projects just don’t seem to be getting done.

I did spend quite a bit of time planning a real vacation for early summer.  Not going far but it will be five days away from home!  Both the husband and I are excited.

Have a great week everyone and happy reading.

Best Defense by David Mack

Book Review

 


Legacies #2: Best DefenseBook Genre: Science Fiction, Star Trek

Book Series: Star Trek: Legacies #2

Released: 7/26/16 by Pocket Books

Pages: 384  Price: $7.99 ebook

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this audiobook from my library

 

 

 

Book Synopsis:

A debt of honor: One brave woman ventures alone into a parallel universe to save her old shipmates, exiled there decades earlier by a mysterious device called the Transfer Key. She soon learns the alternate universe harbors not just an alien invasion force, but a secret that underpins its very existence.

A mission of peace: A long-awaited Klingon-Federation peace conference convenes, led by Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan and Councillor Gorkon of Qo’noS. But both sides have enemies who would prefer the two great powers remain at war—and who will do anything to make certain hate wins the day.

An errand of justice: Captain Kirk and his crew seek the stolen Transfer Key that opens a door between universes, but their hunt is cut short by Ambassador Sarek’s plea for help. The Enterprise crew soon becomes targets in a deadly crossfire—one whose outcome will decide the fate of two universes.

My Review:

I feel like I missed out a bit on the first third of the book as my reading time kept getting interrupted.  Stopping and starting an audiobook isn’t the same as a physical book, although keep continuity can be challenging in print as well.  Rather than restart the book I decided to keep plugging along and eventually I was able to get into the story.

The first part is fairly fuzzy the second half is what really stood out for me.  Much of that takes place at the peace talks between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.  Sarek has a pretty big role in this book and I find myself wanting to know more about Spock’s father.  Perhaps the next Star Trek book I need to read is his. Perhaps my favorite moments in this book were McCoy’s as we got to see him interact with his daughter who was a nursing student on the planet where the talks were being held.  McCoy’s personality truly shines in this book and his scenes were a hoot.

Overall I enjoyed the book and look forward to seeing how this trilogy wraps up in the last book.

My Rating: 3 Stars

Captain to Captain by Greg Cox

Book Review

 


Legacies: Book 1: Captain to CaptainBook Genre: Science Fiction, Star Trek, Tie-In

Book Series: Star Trek: Legacies #1

Released: 6/28/16 by Pocket Books

Pages: 368  Price: $7.99 E-Book

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this audiobook from my library.

 

 

 

Book Synopsis:

An epic new trilogy begins—a tie-in for the milestone fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek: The Original Series—that stretches from the earliest voyages of the Starship Enterprise to Captain Kirk’s historic five-year-mission…and from one universe to another!

Hidden aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise is a secret that has been passed from captain to captain, from Robert April to Christopher Pike to James T. Kirk. Now the return of the enigmatic woman once known as Number One has brought that secret to light, and Kirk and his crew must risk everything to finish a mission that began with April so many years ago…

Nearly two decades earlier, April and his crew first visited the planet Usilde, where they found both tragedy and a thorny moral dilemma. Today, the legacy of that fateful occasion will compel Kirk to embark on a risky voyage back to that forbidden world—which is now deep in territory claimed by the Klingon Empire!

My Review:

I spotted this trilogy available through my library’s overdrive account and decided to add it to my wish list.  Last week I noticed that the first two books were available for borrow and decided the time was right to check them out.

Now I’ve read Star Trek books before but this was my first time listening to them and I have to say that the narrator did an excellent job of bringing the characters to life. He didn’t sound exactly like Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the rest of the crew but he most definitely got the inclination of their voices down.  The author also did a great job of capturing the essence of the characters and franchise as well.

If you are not a huge Trekkie I’m not sure this will interest you much, but I don’t think you will be lost.  It takes place on the original timeline on Kirk’s Enterprise around the time of Star Trek: Undiscovered Country as tensions with the Klingons are high.  A good chunk of the book is also told in flashback to a time before even Christopher Pike captained the Enterprise.

The plot felt much like the original series dealing with the first contact with a xenophobic race on a planet on the edge of Klingon space.  The action was good, the morality lessons timely, and the dialog witty.  I enjoyed the book but then again I’m a lifelong Trekkie and I brought much to the story.

My Rating: 3 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Good Characters in Bad Books

Top Ten Tuesday

Welcome to another contribution to the wildly popular Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week she asks us to share lists on the following:

 April 3: Characters I liked That Were In Non-Favorite/Disliked Books

 

This week’s list might be a challenge.  I’m going to have to rely heavily on my reviews and I often leave out names.  Also If a book isn’t working for me I DNF and those titles usually don’t even get a review.  So I’m going to take a look at my one and two-star review books and see if I can find some titles where I liked the characters but maybe not the books itself.  Wish me luck

Ten Good Characters in Crappy Books.

  1. The Mime Order (The Bone Season, #2) Paige Mahoney is the main character in this series and I truly liked book one but book two was a bit slow and a supporting character that I liked better than Paige was missing for much of the story.
  2. Time Untime (Dark-Hunter #21; Hellchaser, #4; Were-Hunter, #7) Acheron is the only thing that saved this book for me.  I was not a fan of this one at all.  Acheron doesn’t have big part in this book but it ended up being the only sections that I cared about.
  3. Killing Rocks (The Bloodhound Files, #3) Jace Valchek is the main character in this series and I enjoy her and her smart-mouthed partner Charlie as well as the chemistry between Jace and the head of her department.  The problem for me with this book was that those two supporting characters were missing for much of the book.  I need that dynamics for this world to work for me.  I set down book four for the same reason half the characters I love are MIA.
  4. A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) I like most of the characters in this world but my favorites are Tyrion and Arya as well as Daenerys and up until this book I had enjoyed the series.  This book just pushed me past my limit of tolerance.  Nothing happened in this and the previous book.  Nothing.  We followed characters as they were moved around a board and nothing happens.  I personally don’t care if he ever finishes the series because I’m done.
  5. Vampire Most Wanted (Argeneau, #20)  The main couple in this book was a struggle for me but I found the bad-guys were really well written.  Then there was an appearance of Lucian who is one of my favorites in the series.
  6. Silver Wolf Clan (Silver Wolf Clan, #1)  I wish I could give you the names of the characters I liked in this book but I don’t remember it much.  I did like the lead but the story felt off or two short.
  7. Thomas's Choice (Scanguards Vampires, #8) Thomas and Eddie were two characters I liked but the book took a graphic violent turn that I couldn’t stomach and I ended up DNF this book.
  8. Legal Wolf's Mate (Fabian Garoux #1) The characters were good in this book but there was a major shift in tone of the story that didn’t quite work for me.
  9. Black Wings (Black Wings, #1) Beezle is a sidekick in this series, a gargoyle I believe.  Overall I was disappointed by the first book in this series but mentioned that I like that character.
  10. A Touch of Crimson (Renegade Angels, #1) In the review, I mentioned that Elijah and Lindsay’s friendship was part of the reason I even finished this book.  I was tempted to DNF the book but must have kept reading for them.

This list was a challenge I often put the books out of my memory when I don’t like them or simply don’t finish them.  What characters from poorly written books have you enjoyed.

Monday Morning Check-In: Still Cold…

Good Monday morning everyone.  I hope you had a great weekend and to those of you that celebrate Easter a good holiday.  Husband and I do not celebrate so our weekend was pretty much normal.  He did get to work on Friday so that should be some nice holiday pay in next week’s paycheck.  Still cold here in Eastern Iowa and I just ordered our third tank of propane this winter. Dammit.  Oh well, we should have a mostly full tank going into next winter then.  Hopefully, it will warm up soon as I would like to get out in the garden.

Started the Dark Hunter book I’ve been avoiding and so far it has been what I had feared.  I’m not into the main characters.  So far it seems to be 100% original plot which was my complaint with the last book but I still think it is going to be tough to get through this one.  I wonder if I just need to move on from her books, that they won’t work for me anymore.  I hope not she was my favorite author.

Brought home a pompom maker for my knitting projects and I have an idea to make some fun bookmarks.  A google search tells me they have already been done before but I’ll post a picture to Instagram anyway when they are done.

Have a great week everyone and happy reading!